What I Learned on My Latest Disney Trip, Part 2
John J. Petrolino III
AllEars® Guest Columnist
This article appeared in the July 23, 2019 Issue #1035 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
Editor’s Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.
In last week’s issue of AllEars®, I talked about how my wife and I, who consider ourselves Disney World veterans, ran into some uncharted territory on our last trip. I shared a few things that we learned on that trip, and this week, I’d like to continue sharing a few other lessons we learned.
Lesson 3: Going to Disney with a 2-year-old is a lot different than going with an infant or with all adults.
In the past, my wife and I would generally start the day at the parks at rope drop and left just as the fireworks were about ending, or maybe just before. Or we would grab that 8:45 dinner reservation when the park closes at 9 p.m., so that we’d be dining at closing and could eat in peace, then leave the park in relative quite.
Well, with a 2-year-old, I’ve come to the conclusion that all needs to change, a little. We have had to change our pace.
Here is the number one thing: time is money and money is time. We go on these trips to Walt Disney World and spend an incredible amount of money to make these memories and dreams come true. Like any other investment, we want to get the most out of it. So our trip changed as we went along. Once I upgraded to an annual pass, we scratched our traditional Disney Springs day and added another full park day at Epcot. We were there for rope drop and grabbed a dinner reservation 15 minutes before park close (as we did two other nights in parks). From Sunday to Saturday, we did theme parks, all day, every day. Gatorland closed kinda early, but after going back to our hotel to freshen up, we were at a pirate dinner theater show until past our dear son’s normal bed time. We discovered that these trips are literally the Twilight Zone for kids. The first few days were pretty smooth. We tried get our son to nap when he could in his stroller, but let’s face it, this sort of trip is sensory overload. By the end of the week we were looking at a whole new level of bad behavior from him. The witching hours that came when there were no naps or not long enough naps were epic!
This was supposed to have been a more subdued trip. We did not even have an itinerary when we started. But it changed in the opposite direction… as the trip rolled along we actually planned more and more rather than less. We felt that if we were going to be in Disney World and the parks only for a few days, we would do what we had to and power through the meltdowns that kids have.
But after the trip, my wife and I had a "debrief" and we both agreed that the best thing would have been for us to simply go to Disney World every day and not try to do other parks. We also thought it might be better to stay in the parks for only half-days. Before or after the lunch-hour we could have headed back to the hotel and put the little one down for a nap. After the nap, we could have maybe hit the pool, played mini-golf, whatever. Maybe then we could have headed back to Epcot for dinner? The point is, I would have spread all the activity out more to make it easier on my son. We ask a lot of our kids when we drag them along on adventures that last upwards of 16-plus hours in one day.
Lesson 4: Be prepared.
In a multitude of situations I’ve had or have heard about over the years, there are times when things go wrong. This varies from feeling slightly ill, to being devastatingly sick, to having to personally cut a ring off of someone’s finger on a sail boat using a multi-tool in the Caribbean. Fill in the blanks — it can or will happen. Obviously, know your audience and where you are traveling. You don’t need to bring a multi-tool with you into a theme park — in fact it would be against the rules in many cases — but having one in your hotel or resort, just in case, may be not a bad idea. Just like keeping a flashlight on the nightstand in case of a power outage or other emergency — at least you’ll be able to see where you are going. There are little things like that to consider.
We have become the people who have to stand in line at the bag check. There is no way around it with a kid. At least not with one that is in pull-up diapers. Back in the good ol’ days of over-stuffing cargo short pockets, we got away with a lot, pulling out a collapsible back pack or fanny pack from one of the pockets after getting into the park, emptying whatever we needed to into it.
If you have to have a bag, you might as well keep a couple extra items handy for those just-in-case moments. Being in Walt Disney World is not like you’re at the edge of the Earth. If you need something, you can usually get it at one of the shops, at First Aid or the Baby Care Centers, or in certain cases vending machines in the restrooms. But why be caught with your pants down?
Get a little zipper-top baggie and put a couple pillow packs of your medicine(s) of choice. Whatever NSAIDS you like to use or aspirin. Perhaps some medicine for stomach issues? Put a few Band-Aids in there. Make up a little minor first aid kit of a handful of things you may need. Another good item would be a battery pack and phone charger to top off as you need to in the park. Refillable water bottles are another good item, insulated ones. Granted, people complain to different levels about the water in Florida but it makes me wonder if they drink fountain sodas at the many places to eat? Made from the same water. Other things to tuck away include baby wipes, diapers, ointments, feminine hygiene products, a pen and stamps, snacks, a little flashlight, entertainment items for your child and pretty much whatever else you can think of to make things a little easier should they start to go south.
We’re list people, so we put this stuff on a list. Maybe I should say I’m the list person, as in I take lists to a whole new level and while my wife appreciates herself a good list, probably finds what I do an overkill. Look, the people at NASA use lists that they check and double-check and they are wicked smart. Anyhow, add these things and ideas to your lists for your next Walt Disney World adventure. You can save some money and some heartache by thinking about these few things.
As you read through the different stories and posts about the Most Magical Place on Earth in the future, keep the lessons I learned and shared with you in mind.
Also by John Petrolino for AllEars®:
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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John Petrolino is a US Merchant Marine Officer, writer and Disney fanatic. John visited Disney twice as a child with his family, but it was his wife Sarah who got him addicted to the House of the Mouse. John and Sarah have visited Walt Disney World annually since 2010 — they even got engaged in Cinderella Castle in 2011. At the Magic Kingdom, one of John’s favorite attractions is the Carousel of Progress, because it truly is a "Great Big, Beautiful Tomorrow!"